So, six days and finally some internet later . . . I have lots of things I could write about, and maybe will in the future, but for now I’m just going to talk about Stratford and Shakespeare, where I’ve been the past three days.
Shakespeare in high school was not particularly understandable nor enjoyable for me. When I started college as an art major, I figured I’d given up Shakespeare, along with any sort of Algebra, for the rest of my natural life. But then I decided to devote everything I had to becoming a writer and for me that meant English, not Illustration, and so I switched my major and was suddenly required to take a Shakespeare credit. I put this off until I was accepted to my current study abroad program and then it was not only required, but required that semester, as preparation (the plays I read last semester are primarily the ones we’re seeing both now in Stratford and later in the Globe).
I went into it both blind and slightly terrified. Just let me get through it, I thought, without sounding like a total idiot or like a mimicking-parrot that says Shakespeare’s the greatest just because everyone else does. Firstly, I had a really great professor who was brilliant, self-deprecating and passionate about Shakespeare all at the same time. His lecture on Shakespearean jesters caused me to turn one of my main protagonists into a licensed fool (I’ll be sure to credit him in the acknowledgements when the book is a NYC bestseller, clearly…).
I’ve been seeing plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Statford-upon-Avon where William Shakespeare was born and died. The whole little town is basically dedicated to him. Yesterday, when we toured his house, I was touring the tourism of Shakespeare. There were small artifacts of tourists like Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Henry Irving had signed their names as fellow pilgrims. There have been theatrical performances in Stratford-upon-Avon since at least Shakespeare’s day and that history is evident.
When we left his birthplace, there were street actors waiting who said they would perform “sonnets and scenes” upon request. They asked if anyone had a favorite and I said, “Much Ado About Nothing!” before someone could sneak in with some lame Macbeth monologue (just kidding). And there on the spot they performed one of my very favorite scenes, the first verbal sparring match between Beatrice and Benedick (who, despite hating each other, will fall in love Pride-and-Prejudice style). It was so great.
They’re so talented. We’ve seen Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, and As You Like It.
To give you a little preview, here’s the trailers for all of them (be warned, the Titus one is pretty gruesome, don’t watch if you have a queasy stomach).
Anyway–to be brief, I’ve turned into the Shakespeare fan I never thought I would be. I bought a shirt that says Will Power. There’s no hope for me anymore.